Interview with Varun Sheth, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and CEO Ketto.org
Varun Sheth is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ketto.org, Asia’s largest online crowdfunding
platform. Varun has demonstrated instrumental growth for Ketto even in unprecedented times like COVID 19.
Under Varun’s leadership Ketto hosted over 11,000 fundraisers and raised over INR 115 crore during
the pandemic helping and supporting more than 10 million people in various capacities. In addition,
Ketto also waived off campaign fee for all the fundraisers pertaining to Coronavirus.
Tell us a little about yourself
Varun Sheth: Raised in Mumbai, I’ve felt tied to the city since I was a young boy. In college, I started to give back to the community and discovered my passion for social work while volunteering for NGOs.
Working with nonprofits, I had the opportunity to navigate different operational challenges, from day-to-day operations to larger structural issues.
After graduating, I worked with my family’s plastics business before moving on to a corporate job at a finance firm, but I constantly felt out of place.
My time as a volunteer kept coming back to me, and I knew the social sector was where I’d find my calling.
My insights and experience working with NGOs allowed me to identify a gap in their fundraising processes, and I quit my day job to dedicate all my time to Ketto, aiming to bridge this gap.
Please tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey
Varun Sheth: I had a couple of different jobs after graduating college- first with my family’s plastics business, and then as an analyst at a finance firm.
Neither of them felt like the right fit- I knew I was missing something essential in my work. During my time as a volunteer in college, I picked up a lot of experience and knowledge.
I’d learnt that there was a gap when it came to technology and transparency in the fundraising industry, and this was posing many problems.
I knew we needed to bridge this gap in order to make a larger impact- and that’s what Ketto was all about.
I quit my job and started from scratch, working from coffee shops and cafes to build Ketto up to the platform you see today.
Kindly brief us about Ketto, its specialization, and the services that it offers
Varun Sheth: Ketto’s purpose is to bring positive change to communities- big or small. On one hand, Ketto provides a platform for NGOs, volunteers, and agencies to raise money for social causes such as helping victims of natural disasters, animal welfare projects, medical emergencies and so on.
For individual campaigners, Ketto is a space where one can raise funds for an array of personal causes, be it funding for a film project, a family vacation, or to meet healthcare and education needs.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the crowdfunding industry in India?
Millions of families in India are living in the depths of poverty. Every year, we see a lack of funding across sectors result in deepening the chasm, as the lesser fortunate are burdened with costs of medical aid, schooling, and even the very basics like shelter and food.
In the past few years, crowdfunding has played an important role in enabling some of these people to access solutions.
We’ve made progress in leaps and bounds- but I believe the crowdfunding industry in India has a lot more potential to make a real, impactful change that will have positive ripple effects for generations.
What are your plans for the future of Ketto.org?
Varun Sheth: At Ketto, our philosophy is to always ask ourselves ‘what next?’ To be able to offer opportunities to so many communities across India is a privilege that we don’t take lightly, so we’re constantly looking for ways to give more.
Keeping this in mind, we’ve started offering our donors monthly giving programs. We’re focused on building a better tomorrow at an affordable cost.
Our Social Impact Plan allows donors to choose their donation amount and still make a contribution that counts towards a larger goal.
So far, we’ve managed to provide financial and medical aid to XXX people across India, and are eager to do more.
How has your experience as an entrepreneur been so far?
Varun Sheth: Being an entrepreneur can be an uphill battle- but it comes with the territory. You have to be able to roll with the punches.
Having said that, being an entrepreneur has also been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. In the last few years, the scope for young entrepreneurs in India has expanded, and the opportunities to be creative and bring attention to a cause that is close to you have expanded as well.
Even today, I take the challenges and the successes we’ve had with Ketto together- both have shaped me into the person I am today, and it’s something I’m very grateful for.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own businesses?
Varun Sheth: To be an entrepreneur, you need to trust the process and keep persevering. Putting yourself out in the world is not an easy task.
Any start-up is bound to meet with roadblocks and setbacks, but it’s important to believe in the vision you have and take risks to keep your dream alive- you’ll never know when they’ll pay off.
Most importantly, you need to make sure you’re doing something you care about. When everything else fails, the drive to see your dreams actualised is the best motivation you could ask for.
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